In focus: Hydrocarbon industry stepping stone to a world powered by offshore renewables and clean fuels (OEEC 2022 Edition)

As the industry is preparing to meet in Amsterdam next week at the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference (OEEC) 2022, headlines over the past few weeks show the same as the exhibitors’ and speakers’ list for this year’s OEEC – just how much offshore oil & gas and LNG industries, and industries such as offshore wind, green hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage are connected, and how much they need each other.

Equinor/Illustration; Hywind Tampen project

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Following the closing of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), many argue that very little progress was made on the phasing out of fossil fuels and the agreement that established a funding mechanism to compensate vulnerable nations for loss and damage from climate-induced disasters is seen as one of few positive outcomes of COP27.

With the energy crisis taking hold of entire nations and affecting economies, short-term plans are being rolled out to fire up coal plants and produce more oil & gas and LNG, hydrocarbons that we are trying to move away from, as a ‘quick fix’ until more capacities are added through renewables and clean fuel projects.

At the same time, the crisis has also made governments to step on their gas breaks on the build-out of renewable energy capacity, so far an area seen as being slow to move forward, mostly due to policies and regulation, especially because of lengthy permitting processes.

The conventional energy industries, apart from kicking in to save the day as the fuel is running out, are also serving as ‘mentors’ and stepping stones for the energy mix the world strives to have by 2050.

Just as offshore wind tapped into the expertise and lessons learned in the offshore oil and gas industry, from underwater technology to installation and decommissioning, the hydrogen industry, for example, could tap into the experience and know-how in LNG.

It is increasingly starting to be vice versa, as well, as emission-intensive energy sectors are launching decarbonisation projects to power production and/or transport with renewable energy and clean fuels.

LNG – The ‘transition fuel’ as hydrogen and ammonia gain more ground

The link between LNG and (green) hydrogen will be explored in the first session at OEEC 2022, The Roadmap of Hydrogen, on Tuesday, 29 November.

Along with offshore green hydrogen production and innovation in hydrogen technologies, speakers from TNO, LH2 Europe, C-Job, and HydePoint will also discuss the potential for LNG experience to serve as a basis for green hydrogen supply projects and similarities between the early LNG industry and the current status of the hydrogen market.

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One of the areas where experience from LNG can play a role is sea transport of green hydrogen, where the transport medium can be liquid hydrogen or a carrier such as ammonia.

In green hydrogen, Lhyfe, the company that recently launched the world’s first offshore green hydrogen production system in France, powered by a floating turbine (among other technologies), has teamed up with Nantes Saint-Nazaire Port to identify and assess the conditions for the establishment of a supply chain associated with offshore hydrogen production in France.

This week, Germany’s gas company VNG AG and French renewable energy producer Total Eren also made headlines with plans to collaborate on the development of green ammonia imports in Europe.

The companies have signed a cooperation agreement on the import of green hydrogen in the form of ammonia from Total Eren’s green hydrogen projects worldwide. The agreement also covers the sale of hydrogen to the German and European markets from 2028 onwards.

Ammonia is also at the centre of this week’s news from the Japanese energy giant JERA, which announced a partnership with shipping majors Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) to examine ways of developing large-volume ammonia carriers and establishing safe transport systems of fuel ammonia for the Hekinan Thermal Power Plant, for which the fuel ammonia procurement process was launched in February.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG), sometimes referred to as ‘transition fuel’, emerged this week as the focal point of a 27-year sale and purchase agreement (SPA) between QatarEnergy and China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) for the supply of 4 million tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG to China.

The ‘transition fuel’ is also the primary fuel of the two CO2 carriers for the Northern Lights carbon capture and storage (CCS) project, on which the construction has now started at China’s Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co. (DSIC). The ships will use LNG and will also be equipped with wind-assisted propulsion systems.

The Northern Lights CCS project is developed by a joint venture between Equinor, Shell and TotalEnergies, with the latter two set to participate in the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference next week, both with a focus on hydrogen.

Shell will take part in The Executive Outlook conference session with Shell Hydrogen being one of the event sponsors, and TotalEnergies, exhibiting in the Hydrogen Area on the exhibition floor, will also talk offshore wind at the Opportunities in Offshore Wind session, and hydrogen as one of the Hydrogen Perspectives participants in The Stage talks.

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TotalEnergies and Shell are not the only players from the oil and gas sector to talk offshore wind and clean fuels at OEEC 2022.

Oil & gas-offshore wind tie strengthens, solar and hydrogen join the club

BP, this year’s sponsor of The Stage at OEEC, will also share its insights into low carbon energy integration with a focus on offshore wind at The Stage.

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The company, which officially entered offshore wind in February 2021 by partnering with Equinor on two projects in the U.S., has established a strong portfolio of offshore wind projects since then, and is now also forming a floating wind team.

Among its many plans in the sector, BP is said to also be exploring floating wind as a way to decarbonise oil & gas platforms and has also placed bids in the Dutch tender Hollandse Kust West tender, under which the first site was recently awarded to RWE, with the winner for the other site to be announced next month.

From the countries pioneering in the electrification of oil & gas assets by using offshore wind, this year’s OEEC will host speakers from Norwegian Offshore Wind and UK’s Energy Industries Council (EIC), who are joining the Focus on Floating Wind conference session.

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In Norway, the world’s largest floating wind farm and the first to power oil & gas platforms just produced first power and in the UK, more specifically Scotland, the application period for the world’s first seabed leasing for offshore wind projects that will power oil & gas assets has just closed.

The first winner of the Hollandse Kust West tender in the Netherlands, RWE Renewables, will also take part in the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference 2022, through the session Opportunities in Offshore Wind.

RWE’s 760 MW offshore wind farm in the Dutch North Sea is planned to provide surplus electricity to power green hydrogen production on land.

On top of that, the project will incorporate floating solar panels to allow a more efficient use of ocean space.

Along with sessions dedicated to offshore wind, both Executive Outlook and Future Proof sessions will inevitably link to this industry, as well as hydrogen, as the energy sector is interlinked more than ever.

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Major projects planned in marine energy

In the marine energy segment of the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference, the company providing the floating solar part of RWE’s first offshore wind project in the Netherlands, SolarDuck, will take The Stage as the Marine Energy Alliance Talks kick off on Tuesday.

SolarDuck’s contract with RWE will see the world’s largest hybrid offshore floating solar power plant being built at the Hollandse Kust West VII offshore wind site.

Projects in marine energy are getting bigger, and one of the projects proving that is a major tidal energy development in the UK, which is planned to incorporate the world’s first tidal-powered deep sea container terminal and provide landside flood defenses for up to a million people.

It is also anticipated that some of the off-peak renewable energy produced by the tidal turbines could be used to create green hydrogen to decarbonise the farming and transport sector.

The latest marine energy developments and opportunities to scale up marine energy projects from a business, policy, and technological perspective will all be the topics of the session Scaling up Marine Energy at this year’s Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference.

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One of the session participants will be CorPower Ocean, which recently completed the system integration of its first commercial-scale wave energy converter, the CorPower C4, in Portugal.

The marine energy conference session will also include a company traditionally doing business in the oil & gas sector, Eni. Earlier this year, the Italian oil & gas major joined the technical advisory board of the IMPACT project, a collaborative research and innovation scheme which aims to develop next-gen testing approaches for wave energy devices.

Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference will take place on 29 November at RAI Amsterdam. There are still tickets left for full access to the exhibition and the conference programme. Head to our OEEC registration page to check out the options.